As sewing is an essential skill in making your own #costumes & #cosplays, there are terms used specifically for sewing that novices may not be familiar with. Here are some of them.
We have broken up the terms into 3 categories:
- Fabric terms.
- Stitching terms.
- Garment terms.
- Grain: this a reference to an orientation with respect to the warp and weft threads. Hence, only woven fabrics has grains. Fabrics such as leather, felt and interfacing don’t have grains because they’re not woven. There are three named grains:
- Bias (or Bias Grain): this is the orientation on a woven fabric that is 45 degrees to both the warp and weft threads. Thus, every woven fabric has two bias directions that are perpendicular to each other. Woven fabric is more elastic as well as more fluid in the bias direction, compared to the straight grain and crossgrain.
- Crossgrain: this is the orientation that runs perpendicular to the selvage and parallel to the weft threads. The crossgrain generally has more stretch than the straight grain since the weft threads are generally looser than the warp during weaving.
- Straight Grain: the orientation that is parallel with the warp threads and the selvage. The straight grain typically has less stretch than the crossgrain since the warp threads will be pulled tighter than the weft during weaving. Most garments are cut with the straight grain oriented top to bottom.
- Grain Line: an imaginary line running lengthwise on the fabric, always parallel to the selvage. The grain line is marked on pattern pieces with a straight line, usually with arrows at either end, and marked as “grain line” or “straight grain.”
- Nap: the raised (fuzzy) surface on certain kinds of fabric, such as velvet or moleskin. Nap can refer additionally to other surfaces that look like the surface of a napped cloth, such as the surface of a felt or beaver hat.
- Right Side: side of the fabric designed to be on the outside of the garment. Sewing directions usually instruct to put right sides together and stitch, resulting in fabric seamed together with the seam allowances on the inside of the garment.
- Selvage: this is a “self-finished” edge of a fabric. “Self-finished” means that the edge does not require additional finishing work (such as a hem or bias tape) to prevent fraying.
- In woven fabric, selvages are the edges that run parallel to the warp that are created by the weft thread looping back at the end of each row.
- In knitted fabric, selvages are the unfinished yet structurally sound edges that were neither cast on nor bound off.
- Warp and Weft: these are the two types of threads (or yarns) used to weave fabric. Warp threads are held stationary in tension on a frame or loom, while weft is the transverse thread that is drawn through and inserted under-and-over the warp. A single thread of the weft crossing the warp is called a pick, while an individual warp thread is called a warp end or end.
- Wrong Side: side of the fabric intended to be on the inside of the garment. On some fabrics it is apparent which is the wrong or right side, such as on prints, but on other fabrics both sides can look the same.
- Yardage: a length of fabric. Patterns will indicate required yardage needed for a garment in a specific size, detailing how much yardage is needed.
- Basting: this refers to temporary, long-running stitches (made by machine or by hand) that holds fabric together before final, permanent stitching is used.
- Clipping: snips made in the seam allowance, up to but not through the stitching, to allow the fabric to open around curves or to lay flat.
- Edge Stitch: a line of stitching very close to a seam or garment edge.
- French Seam: a finished seam in which the seam is initially stitched with wrong sides together, then flipped inside and stitched right sides together. This encloses the seam allowance, creating a clean finish on the inside of the garment.
- Gathering: a process of taking up a length of fabric in order to seam it to a shorter piece of fabric.
- Grading: there are 2 definitions:
- After a seam is stitched, the two layers are trimmed to a different width in order to prevent a ridge showing on the outside of the garment seam.
- It may also refer to the process of converting a pattern size to a larger or smaller size.
- Seam: the join where two or more layers of fabric, leather, or other materials are held together with stitches.
- Seam Allowance: the distance from the edge of the cut fabric piece to the stitching, which can vary according to the pattern and fabric.
- Stay Stitch: a line of machine stitches on or near the seam, stitched on a single layer of fabric, used to stabilize a cut edge.
- Stitch Length: the length of a single stitch, which affects the amount of fabric moved through the machine per stitch. Fewer stitches per inch means each stitch is longer, up to and including basting stitches.
- Topstitch: a row of stitches seen on the outside of a garment that can be decorative and also add strength and wearability to an item.
- Under Stitch: a row of stitching that attaches the facing to the seam allowance on the inside of the garment.
- Dart: a fold (a tuck coming to a point) and sewn into fabric to take in ease and provide shape to a garment, especially for a woman’s bust. Darts are used in all sorts of clothing to tailor the garment to the wearer’s shape, or to make an innovative shape in the garment.
- Ease: the amount of room a garment allows the wearer beyond the measurements of their body.
- Facing: a small piece of fabric, separate or a part of the fabric itself, used to finish the fabric edges. Facing makes a garment look professionally finished with the seams well hidden inside the folds of the facing. It’s mostly used to finish the edges in necklines, armholes, hems and openings. They’re also used in other sewn items, such as quilts and curtain hems.
- Hem: a garment finishing method in which the edge of a piece of fabric is folded narrowly and sewn to prevent fraying.
- Interfacing: a layer of of fabric used to stabilize the fashion fabric in a garment. Interfacing can be woven or non-woven, fusible or sew in.